Monday, January 03, 2011

The History of Blackberries

Called ‘bramble’ or brymbyl in old English and ‘brombeere’ in German, the ancient Anglo-Saxons baked brambleberries into primitive pies to celebrate the first fruit feast of Lughnasadh at the beginning of August.

Blackberries are native to Asia, Europe. North America, Australia, Africa and South America and have the most widespread geographic origin of any fruit crop.

It follows that blackberries grown in specific regions are largely derived from species indigenous to those regions and no singles species dominates world production.

Blackberries have been used in Europe for over 2000 years; they are consumed as food, employed for medicinal purposes, and planted in hedgerows to keep out intruders.

Medicinally, Galen prescribes a decoction of blackberries, while Palladius gives a recipe for diamoron, blackberry syrup, made with two parts juice to one part honey.

The blackberry is not consistently distinguished in Greek from the mulberry, a superficially similar fruit.

Ancient Greek relied on blackberry to treat gout. And it was so influential in Europe that well into the 18th century, the fruit was called goutberry.

10th century Arab physician considered the fruit to be aphrodisiac.

The blackberries appear to have been cultivated in Europe only a few years before they were cultivated in North America; a European cultivar was introduced into North America in 1850.

The early setters of Europe and North America found wild blackberries growing in abundance. Although some were harvested for food, the majority, because of their thorniness and vigorous growth, were look upon as a nuisance that interfered with land clearing and cultivation.

About 1930, a thornless plant of the cut leaf European blackberries was discovered.
The History of Blackberries